Articles | Volume 373
12 May 2016
 | 12 May 2016

Improving predictions of the effects of extreme events, land use, and climate change on the hydrology of watersheds in the Philippines

Rubianca Benavidez, Bethanna Jackson, Deborah Maxwell, and Enrico Paringit

Abstract. Due to its location within the typhoon belt, the Philippines is vulnerable to tropical cyclones that can cause destructive floods. Climate change is likely to exacerbate these risks through increases in tropical cyclone frequency and intensity. To protect populations and infrastructure, disaster risk management in the Philippines focuses on real-time flood forecasting and structural measures such as dikes and retaining walls. Real-time flood forecasting in the Philippines mostly utilises two models from the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC): the Hydrologic Modeling System (HMS) for watershed modelling, and the River Analysis System (RAS) for inundation modelling. This research focuses on using non-structural measures for flood mitigation, such as changing land use management or watershed rehabilitation. This is being done by parameterising and applying the Land Utilisation and Capability Indicator (LUCI) model to the Cagayan de Oro watershed (1400 km2) in southern Philippines. The LUCI model is capable of identifying areas providing ecosystem services such as flood mitigation and agricultural productivity, and analysing trade-offs between services. It can also assess whether management interventions could enhance or degrade ecosystem services at fine spatial scales. The LUCI model was used to identify areas within the watershed that are providing flood mitigating services and areas that would benefit from management interventions. For the preliminary comparison, LUCI and HEC-HMS were run under the same scenario: baseline land use and the extreme rainfall event of Typhoon Bopha. The hydrographs from both models were then input to HEC-RAS to produce inundation maps. The novelty of this research is two-fold: (1) this type of ecosystem service modelling has not been carried out in the Cagayan de Oro watershed; and (2) this is the first application of the LUCI model in the Philippines. Since this research is still ongoing, the results presented in this paper are preliminary. As the land use and soil parameterisation for this watershed are refined and more scenarios are run through the model, more robust comparisons can be made between the hydrographs produced by LUCI and HEC-HMS and how those differences affect the inundation map produced by HEC-RAS.

Short summary
Being within the typhoon belt, the Philippines is vulnerable to typhoons that can cause destructive floods. The Land Utilisation and Capability (LUCI) model is being applied to the Cagayan de Oro watershed to identify areas providing flood mitigation services and potential areas to target for improving flood mitigation. LUCI can complement the existing disaster risk framework by assessing land use plans under scenarios of extreme events and climate change, and the effect on flooding downstream.